Friday, 8 August 2008

LXDE is actually teh awesome

Looking to speed up you PC? Want to have as small a system as possible to keep on a USB drive? Looking to play around with your desktop? Give LXDE a try, it is the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment.

It is built using GTK, the same toolkit used to build GNOME and XFCE, but it is a lot faster than those two. The developers were after the most lightweight, yet still usable by today's standards, desktop system.

The first thing to do was strip away all of the fancy-yet-unneeded cruft, leaving essential things like a toolkit, window manager, desktop with icons, file manager, panel with menus, terminal and some way of configuring it all. Everything else is either not needed, or can be dragged in from elsewhere.

Next to do was to see what things were already good. GTK was chosen as a decent toolkit since it includes accessibility features and right-to-left language support and things, which are essential for many users. Window managers follow standards, and can thus be mixed and matched with each other, allowing any to suffice. Since there are already a lot of efficiency-minded window managers out there this problem went away by simply using them (Openbox by default, but any can be used). For a GTK-based file manager PCMan was chosen as it is rather minimal and very fast (since it only scans a folder if something has changed, else it uses what it remembers from last time it was there).

They have written their own panel, their own appearance configuration tool, terminal, desktop and some niceties like a network monitor and CPU monitor, all following efficiency as their main goal.

This results in a VERY snappy and lightweigth system. Combine this with lightweight applications like the Midori browser (although Dillo is even smaller, but not as nice), Sylpheed email reader, etc. and you have a completely capable desktop perfect for older machines, restricted space drives or just computers you actually want to USE rather than having to wait for everything.

PS: Remember when I wet myself over the Aurora GTK theme? Well it seems I've been in KDE4 land a bit too long since there are some awesome themes banging around.

PPS: OMFG! This guy is a God!

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